Europe-based umps to call LL World Series games
John Valverde, left, a retired airman and civilian with Ramstein's 86th Communications Squadron, has been chosen to umpire at the Junior League World Series. The event, set for Aug. 11-17 at Taylor, Mich., features 13-14 year olds. Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Bise, meanwhile, will work the Big League World Series July 24-31 at Easley, S.C.
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – You might recognize them. You might have even rolled your eyes at them or hurled an insult their way.
Now you can say you knew them back when.
Two seasoned umpires well-known in DODDS-Europe and military youth baseball circles are on their way to the big time.
John Valverde, a retired airman and civilian with Ramstein’s 86th Communications Squadron, has been chosen to umpire at the Junior League World Series. The event, set for Aug. 11-17 at Taylor, Mich., features 13-14 year olds.
Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Bise, meanwhile, will work the Big League World Series July 24-31 at Easley, S.C. The Big League features players aged 16-18, the oldest of the Little League age groups.
The tournaments are siblings of the famed Little League World Series featuring 11- and 12-year-olds and held annually in Williamsport, Pa.
Valverde and Bise traversed a long and intricate selection process to earn the coveted spots at two of the world’s most visible youth baseball tournaments.
“I’ve wanted to do one for a long time,” Valverde said. “I may never, ever get another World Series. I can’t be disappointed. I’m thrilled to death.”
That’s fortunate, because “thrill” is the only compensation offered to the chosen. To be eligible for the appointment, umpires must not have accepted any money for umpiring, and they are not reimbursed for travel expenses to and from the site of their assigned Series.
But umpires at all levels are quickly made aware that their profession is a thankless one. The goal of any good umpire is to approach invisibility, to sink into the background ambience of the timeless game.
It rarely happens that way, of course, but that’s the goal.
“It’s the fans’ God-given right to yell at you,” Valverde said.
If not money or respect, then, the motivation to invest considerable time and expense into the enterprise must come from elsewhere.
Valverde, once an aspiring pitcher, said it’s all about “love of the game.” Bise, the son of a longtime umpire, cited the “camaraderie” and pride of taking one’s place on a world-class crew.
“Everything’s right in my world when I’m out on this field,” Valverde said.
2013 Europe and Africa Regional Tournaments
(Winners in each tournament participate in respective World Series events in States)
Little League Baseball (11-12-year-olds) July 13-21; Kutno, Poland
Little League Intermediate Baseball (11-13) TBD
Junior League Baseball (13-14) July 2-9; Kutno, Poland
Senior League Baseball (14-16) July 8-14; Novara, Italy
Big League Baseball (16-18) June 27-30; Stuttgart, Germany
Little League Softball (11-12) July 17-21; Bollate, Caronno, Italy
Junior League Softball (13-14) July 10-14; Bollate, Caronno, Italy
Senior League Softball (13-16) July 10-13; Bollate, Caronno, Italy
Big League Softball (14-18) July 15-18; Staranzano Gorizia, Italy
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